Monday, May 14, 2018

5 Ridiculous Claims About the FMS

Let me start by saying I’m actually a proponent of movement screening. I even recommend the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) for new personal trainers.

But that doesn’t mean the FMS is blameless -- far from it. When it comes to marketing their product, they put the cart before the horse. They sold certifications and made claims about the screen before they had any evidence to back them up. That’s not good science, and for this people have a right to be peeved.

A new Facebook video by Dr. Greg Rose of Functional Movement Systems (watch it here) is yet another great example of why people get so frustrated with the FMS. Let’s break it down point-by-point, shall we?

1. Dr. Rose starts off by saying, “[I] just saw another article that says the FMS does not predict injury. If I hear that one more time, I think I’m going to explode.”

He has a point. We’ve known fairly definitively for a few years that the FMS doesn’t predict injury, yet researchers continue doing these same types of studies, only to come to the same conclusions all over again. Why might that be?

The researchers are confused! They’re confused for a couple reasons. For one, they might not have read enough of the previous research on the FMS. But for another, the FMS folks themselves have created a lot of the confusion. This video is a perfect example.

2. Dr. Rose continues: “The last thing in the world you would ever do is a research paper on total score and predicting injury. That’s not what [the FMS] is for.”

Well that’s funny. The FMS team conducted their own original research in 2007, 2013, and 2014 on that exact topic. In fact, they actually found that professional football players and firefighters who scored 14 or less were more likely to get injured.

And so a new wave of injury research was spawned, with dozens of follow-up studies conducted by third parties attempting to replicate this relationship in other populations.

3. Yet, Dr. Rose insists, “FMS has been saying for at least 10 years -- probably 20 years -- that it doesn’t predict injury. That’s not what it’s for,” he reiterates.

Therein lies the problem, folks. FMS has NOT been saying that for years. Over the last dozen years, they’ve quietly changed their tune about the purpose of the screen -- without ever really admitting to having said something different before.

For example, in 2006 the creators of the FMS published the first paper on it. They wrote, “functional movement deficits … may limit performance and predispose the individual to micro-traumatic injury.” Their 2007 and 2013 research supported that statement.

Yet by 2014, the creators had done a 180 based on a mounting body of third-party evidence. In a new paper the creators wrote, “the use of a total FMS score for predicting injury risk should be avoided. … Looking at raw numbers is not enough. Rather, it is important to identify asymmetries and 0’s.”

Indeed, FMS seems to pretend they’ve been saying all along not to use the composite score for injury prediction -- as evidenced by Dr. Rose’s next statement:

4. “If you get below a 14, you probably have some issues. Well if you get below a 14, guess what: you have 0’s or 1’s… If you want to do research on 0’s or 1’s, let’s do research on 0’s or 1’s that can create injury – ‘cuz they’re already injured! With 0’s they’re already injured; they have pain.”

As if to say, "we thought all along that 0's and 1's were the problem, not the composite score." Of course, that last part of Dr. Rose's remark isn’t even true. Injury and pain aren’t always the same. You can continue having pain long after an injury has healed.

5. Dr. Rose wraps up by saying, “We can’t just take a movement screen and predict injury. That doesn’t make any sense. That’s literally saying ‘dogs can fly.’”

Welp. Of course it doesn’t make sense. Injury is way more complicated than just the way someone moves. Yet the FMS team tried to do exactly that. When it didn’t work, they quietly backtracked on their claims.

Nowadays, their instructional manual treads a bit more lightly on the issue of injury: “If these compensations [from the screen] continue, sub-optimal movement patterns are reinforced, leading to poor biomechanics and possibly contributing to a future injury.”

Considering the research that continues to be done on the composite score and injury, though, it seems that not everyone has gotten the creators' 2014 memo (much to Dr. Rose's chagrin in this video). Of course, it's no wonder this is the case, given the FMS’s general lack of transparency.

Unfortunately, videos like this one hardly help to set the record straight.

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